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Shoulder Mobilization Exercises

author image Sarka-Jonae Miller
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.
Shoulder Mobilization Exercises
Do not let shoulder pain stop you from enjoying normal activities. Photo Credit Over shoulder image by Francois du Plessis from Fotolia.com

Shoulder mobilization exercises help increase the range of motion, or ROM, in the shoulder joints and may reduce pain. Some are passive exercises with the shoulder muscles relaxed completely during those exercise. Mobilization exercises for the shoulder can be done by yourself or with the help of an aide if necessary. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, so it can move in a variety of ways, including extension, flexion and rotation.

Long Axis Extension

Long axis extension is a passive exercise you can do yourself to extend your shoulder toward the floor. You may allow gravity to pull your shoulder down, or use an additional weight such as a bucket, kettle bell or dumbbell. Do not use a weight that causes pain. To perform this exercise, sit or stand with your arm relaxed at your side. Either relax and let gravity pull your arm down, or hold a weight in your hand and let your shoulder slide toward the floor.

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Wide Arm Circles

Wide arm circles use momentum once you get your arms going to increase rotational range of motion. You may have someone hold your arm one at a time and move them in circles for you if you prefer or your doctor recommends it. Stand up tall to do wide circles or sit on a stool or bench to have someone do them for you. Swing your arms first forward and then back in large circles. The elbows may be bent slightly. The size of your circles depends on your range of motion, so as long as it doesn't hurt try to make the circles as wide as possible.

Internal and External Rotation

The internal and external rotation sequence is a passive exercise that increases the range of motion of your shoulder to rotate toward your torso and out to the side. To perform this exercise, sit comfortably next to a table or desk and place your elbow on the table. Bend your arm to a 90-degree angle. Grasp the wrist of the arm on the table with the hand of your other arm. Internally rotate your arm so the forearm and palm move toward the floor. Then, externally rotate the arm in the opposite direction toward the table.


Increase the range of motion for shoulder flexion with a passive exercise using a flat surface like a table. Shoulder flexion is the act of raising your arms forward in front of your body. To do this exercise, sit and place your arms flat on a table in front of you, palms facing down. Then, slide your arms forward and bring your forehead to the table.

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